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Growing Business vs. Labor Safety – New Construction Industry Liabilities?

Sizzling LEO | 3:34 AM | 0 comments


Finding talented employees is a significant problem for the construction industry. The recent recession impacted the industry substantially, and many experienced and skilled employees left the industry for other opportunities. A construction consultant can assist contractors and clients in keeping construction injury lawsuits down by finding the right employees for a particular project. More importantly, they help contractors understand when they do not have the right employees.

The Right Skills

In commercial construction, contractors and clients alike will often use existing employees to complete work on a project. Many commercial sites have maintenance personnel employed at the location prior to initiating a project, and using the employees to work on the project may seem to be an attractive idea. The idea behind using an existing employee is that the cost will be reduced over hiring outside laborers, the laborers are familiar with the existing chain of command, and the workers are familiar with the site.

This is a common mistake. Many in-house personnel are not contractors or individuals accustomed to working for contractors. As a result, the employees often do not understand the methodology of a particular phase of the project, and hence will not complete their assigned tasks. Skilled welders and electricians will not perform optimally when assigned complicated tasks outside their existing knowledge base. This frequently results in the employer or the contractor having to direct every action of every employee. Such a requirement will add stress to the contractor and client and delay the project.

Time Constrictors

Poor quality work performed by employees is worse than incomplete work. If the work is detected immediately, employers can direct the employee to complete the task again. Even a quick detection will cause a delay in time and a loss of material. In some circumstances, the work may not be detected until an inspector reviews the site at a later date for code compliance; addressing structural defects on a site under construction can bring the project to a halt and increase costs dramatically. The contractor may also gain a reputation for poor work, which can destroy his business.

Delays are common in the construction industry, and, as advised by our building trade sources at Construx Solutions, labor problems are one reason why this is the case. Unskilled laborers or skilled laborers without relevant skills can be a false economy. Most contractors and workers in the construction industry would never use the wrong tool for a task, and workers are assets like any other. Rather than hammer a round peg into a square hole, clients and contractors must find the right employees from the start.

Legal Problems

Poor hiring decisions can not only delay a project, but also expose contractors and clients to liability. If an employee does not have the skills required to complete a task, the employee will either not complete the task at all or will return low quality work. Employees without experience in certain areas can also become injured, exposing the builder to huge legal costs.

Injuries are common in construction. If the contractors and clients have used unskilled employees for skilled tasks, the unskilled employee may expose the contractor and client to liability in the event that an accident occurs. If an injury occurs as a result of an inept worker, the injured party’s attorney will argue that the contractor and clients were liable vicariously and for their own negligence. The cost savings of having unskilled employees perform skilled tasks can be eliminated by a single lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim.

Critical Solutions

With an experienced overview, construction consultants can help contractors and clients avoid regulatory pitfalls. As compliance costs continue to increase, understanding worker rights and employer obligations becomes increasingly complex. Protective equipment can be required by law, different categories of waste must be disposed of properly, and changing building codes can inflate costs. Failing to report employees properly can also cause tax consequences and problems with workers’ compensation claims.

For an independent contractor or home builder, keeping abreast of these various issues may be impossible. An experienced consultant with years working in the industry can help guide small business owners through the legal and practical hazards associated with completing a project. A consultant can help builders avoid delays, civil liability, and administrative issues.

Ann Bailey reports on legal issues in the building industry to benefit workers and owners in the trade. The creatively-tuned consulting team at Construx Solutions, based in Atlanta GA, assist their clients who own and manage construction businesses with all aspects of the building processes that involve legal and personnel elements.

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